GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (7/8/11)--As part of its 20th Annual Leadership Conference, June 21-23 in Grand Rapids, Mich, CU*Answers challenged participants to take their traditional credit union communities and transform them into true cooperatives. In delivering this message, CU*Answers President/CEO Randy Karnes discussed the differences between “cooperation” and a true cooperative business design. Cooperation is about getting along, while a cooperative business design is about leveraging and maximizing a business design to get ahead, Karnes said. A true cooperative model seeks to gain a competitive advantage for a credit union’s membership, Karnes said. Building on the conference’s theme, “My Credit Union is a Community,” Karnes challenged attending CEOs to consider what constitutes a community. He said a credit union community includes:
* Location--where credit union members and employees live, work and play; * Members--of all credit unions; * Professionals--employees of CUs, regulators, trade associations, credit union service organizations, consultants and vendors; and * Volunteers--of all credit unions;
Each community member must work to build trust and respect, working together to serve the greater good of the credit union membership, he said. To represent the ideal of community support, conference attendees were each presented a check for $10 to donate to one of five community-related charities. The popular choice was Credit Unions for Kids, which received $650. Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, Salvation Army and Big Brothers Big Sisters received donations totaling $810.